18 November, 2008

Michael Vick and PETA

Michael Vick is back in the news, as he declares, from prison, his intent to play NFL football again. It was certainly one of the biggest stories in the NFL in 2007, as the former quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons went from a $100 million contract to a prison cell, on charges of dogfighting. And now, as he considers his future, do we hear details of how his millions was squandered. At this time, his only lasting legacy is the nearly one million dollars he spent to finance the care of his dogs.

But this isn't really a classic rise-and-fall story, nor even a story about Vick himself.

Consider: as a highly-paid professional athlete, there is a lot on offer, and a lot you can get away with. On a regular basis, player take drugs, sell drugs, drive drunk & kill or injure using their vehicles, and beat & abuse women. These are awful and destructive crimes.

How have we (society and/or the league itself) dealt with these crimes? A large fine, or a few weeks suspension here and there, if that. A few months in prison at the very most. After the time is done, all is forgiven, and the player is promptly back on the field, directing his aggression where it works best (just ask Ray Lewis).

But indulge in the ugly practice of dogfighting, and you raise far more than the ire of the league or the criminal justice system. You find yourself squarely in the sights of PETA - the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - and like a well-trained pit bull, they don't let go after they've brought you down to the ground.

This story is really about the power of PETA, one of the most powerful and influential lobby groups in the USA today, and Vick would have to qualify as one of their biggest and highest profile scalps yet.

Now, the vast majority of people would agree that watching animals fight for sport is an awful and disgusting practice and should be eradicated. The question is more about how to rank it on the scale of "bad things".

But in the PETA world, animals rank equal to or higher than humans. In the PETA world, we would all be vegetarians. No turkey on thanksgiving, no slaughter of animals for food, perhaps even no leather shoes, belts or jackets? Some animal liberationists would like us to drink coffee with breast milk (because that's the only milk that can be obtained with consent).

Yes, the PETA world is quite a bizarre world, when you think about it. Yet that is their true agenda. So while I'm all against dogfighting, I do enjoy a fine steak, and I think it's reasonable to put down animals, but not humans. While usually, it's better to consider the message more than the messenger, the people from PETA are genuinely scary. And loud. And powerful.

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